It is the time to take serious measures to put an end to the brutality of the Punjab Police. The have done very disgusting act by beating physically paralyzed people, how a normal person can even think to do the heinous crime. It seems that no matter how defenceless you are, the Punjab police will bring you down to size.
Punjab police, a state outfit so notorious and so brutal it has done what no one thought one human being could do to another: it has roughed up and abused those most vulnerable and unable to help themselves. A group of blind people had gathered in front of the Lahore Press Club to protest against the fact that the government was not increasing the quota of disabled people in the jobs sector. Problems arose when the protestors decided to shift their demonstration to the Chief Minister’s House when it was made known that a VIP convoy was to pass through. It was then that the infamous Punjab police had a go at the demonstrators, pushing, shoving and beating the blind protestors who kept falling to the ground due to their natural disability. The irony of this situation is that this atrocity happened on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. That is why these blind people chose that date, for it to coincide with a day that holds so much importance.
There are no words to express the horror with which the news reports of this incident were seen on television. The savagery of the Punjab police and its thana culture is well known but we all thought these men in uniform drew the line somewhere but they left us speechless. Police ‘encounters’ is just a fancy way of terming the extrajudicial killing of people the police and its sponsors want to get off their backs and the force seems to exist only to serve the VIPs. It is hard to forgive the hard memories of the June, when police brutality killed over a dozen innocent people in Lahore including two women and injuring over ninety people. But it seems that authorities are unable to curtail the barbaric activities of the police. This time too, after the beating up of blind protestors, five policemen have only been suspended. But it will not fix the problem, a lot more needs to do done including the proper training of the police that how to behave with the people. In other countries police means protection but here it’s the opposite of it.
Whereas the rest of the world might have observed International Day of Persons With Disabilities (PWD) by organising seminars and conducting campaigns regarding the rights and protection of mentally and physically challenged persons, the Pakistani police received them with a baton charge when a group of visually impaired people tried to raise their voice for an increase in their quota in government organisations. The force with which these people were met reflects the behaviour disabled people receive in our society generally. The UN passed the Convention on the Rights of PWDs in 2006 that categorically states the ensuring of the full enjoyment of all fundamental human rights by PWDs. Many countries have ratified the convention but its effective implementation is yet to be seen. Societies generally tend to overlook the abilities of special people. Several scientific studies have proved that if there is a biological disability in a person, it is almost always compensated by a heightened sense or functioning of another faculty. To assume therefore that they are less capable than the rest of us is nothing but an ill-informed opinion. Such obstacles can be overcome if states adopt laws that promote positive discrimination on behalf of PWDs.
With roughly a population of 10 million disabled people, Pakistan presents an embarrassing picture of the miserable and neglected condition they live in. There is the Ordinance 1981 in place which binds all the establishments with a workforce of hundred or above to have at least one percent of disabled persons as their employees. That is not to say that the Ordinance is by any means being followed by employers. The special persons community are demanding an increase in the quota. When will we learn that as civilised human beings and citizens we are bound to adopt a sympathetic behaviour towards our fellow humans? However, at this point there is a need for the government to act to ensure equal rights for these people not in the least because they deserve it but also as a recognition of the fact that rest of the humanity is in no way superior to them. Law makers must not forget to provide the due rights to the special people. Persons with disabilities are entitled to exercise their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights on an equal basis with others.